Landscaping services includes design, construction and maintenance work on someone else’s property. When providing landscaping services to your clients, your business is exposed to certain risks and liabilities, including if any loss or damage is caused to the property.
If you have a strong Client Agreement in place, it will set out the responsibilities of each party, and help avoid disputes in the future.
Your Client Agreement should comprise of (i) a Quotation with (ii) Terms and Conditions attached. The items which need to be addressed are outlined below.
Services and Timing
Landscaping services cover a wide range of work. It is important that you set out in your Quotation the exact services that you will provide, and what you do not provide. This section should be detailed so that your clients understand what they will and will not receive. Timing of the services should be set out so your clients know when each stage of work should be completed.
Payment terms need to cover whether a deposit is to be paid, payment methods that are acceptable, how regularly invoices will be issued, and when you require payment, e.g. within 14 days. You are able to state that if any invoice is unpaid after a certain period of time, all services will cease until payments have been made. It would also be sensible to outline who is responsible for the payment of materials required for you to perform your services. Will you make the payments to your suppliers and then invoice it to your clients? Will your clients be contacting their own suppliers and providing you with the necessary material?
Often, changes and additions will be required throughout the landscaping process. You need to set out a procedure in your Terms and Conditions of how any changes or additional services can be requested by the client. You should reserve the right to reject such requests. If you choose to accept the request, additional costs should be signed and agreed on before you proceed with the services.
Termination and Cancellation
As some landscaping services can take a long period of time, your termination and cancellation terms need to be clear. The Terms and Conditions should have a procedure for terminating or cancelling your services, and should set out the consequences. You should outline the notice period required, and ensure that your clients pay for any services that have been provided prior to termination.
Client Obligations and Warranties
As you will be working on property which does not belong to you or your business, the client obligations need to provide that the client has rights to the property and the right to grant you access. If the work requires approval from the council, you either need to ensure that the client has the required approval for the services to be performed, or, alternatively, you may wish to seek approval on their behalf, and charge additional costs for doing so.
Limitation of Liability
Landscaping work may result in loss or damage to your clients or their property. To protect your business, you need to ensure that your clients understand that, while you will use all reasonable care and skill in performing the services, you will not be liable for any faults or failures which are a result of the client’s own negligence or misuse.
However, you should note that whilst you may limit your liability in certain circumstances, there are mandatory consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law which apply.
Having professionally drafted Client Agreement could save you time, money and headache in the long run. There are risks involved in running a landscaping business. You should consult with a contract lawyer to ensure that your business interests are well-protected under your Terms and Conditions.